Cristiano Ronaldo Shines Once More as Portugal Upholds Flawless Qualifying Streak

Cristiano Ronaldo increased his world-record tally of international goals to 128 as Portugal extended their perfect Euro 2024 qualifying record with a 2-0 win in Liechtenstein.

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After a frustrating goalless first half for Roberto Martinez’s side, who top Group J on maximum points, Portugal almost broke the deadlock seconds after the restart when Ronaldo fired against the post from close range.

The 38-year-old, though, was soon celebrating his latest goal for his country, a 10th of the current campaign, when he was played into the left side of the penalty area by Diogo Jota and rifled the ball into the roof of the net.

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Joao Cancelo added a second just before the hour with a neat finish from a tight angle past stranded Iceland goalkeeper Benjamin Buchel, while Joao Felix saw his effort ruled out for offside.

Portugal, who complete their qualifying campaign at home to Iceland on Sunday, had the ball in the net again with seven minutes left when Goncalo Ramos stabbed in from close range following a free-kιck.

The goal, though, was eventually ruled out for offside following a lengthy VAR check and review by the referee on the pitchside monitor.

 Slovakia secured qualification as runners-up with a 4-2 win over Iceland in Bratislava.

Orri Oskarsson headed Iceland into an early lead, before Juraj Kucka equalised and Ondrej Duda’s penalty turned things around.

Lukas Haraslin struck twice for Slovakia in the second half, with Andri Gudjohnsen scoring a late second for Iceland.

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Luxembourg beаt Bosnia and Herzegovina 4-1, with both sides set to go into the play-offs.

Spain took control at the top of Group A with a 3-1 win in Cyprus.

Barcelona teenager Lamine Yamal gave the visitors an early lead after just five minutes, with Mikel Oyarzabal and Real Madrid forward Joselu putting Spain 3-0 up at the break.

Cyprus – who suffered an eighth straight loss in Group A – scored a consolation goal with 15 minutes left through substitute Kostas Pileas.

Scotland, who like Spain are already sure of a place in Germany next summer, fought back to draw 2-2 away against Georgia with a stoppage-time header from Lawrence Shankland.

Napoli forward Khvicha Kvaratskhelia put the hosts in front after 15 minutes, before Scott McTominay equalised early in the second half for his seventh goal of the qualifying campaign.

Kvaratskhelia restored Georgia’s lead in the 57th minute, but Hearts striker Shankland – a late call-up to the squad – had the final sаy when he headed home Stuart Armstrong’s cross two minutes into added time.

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Spain are two points clear of Scotland heading into their last group fixture on Sunday against Georgia, who are set to go into the play-offs via their Nations League ranking, while the Scots host Norway.

Hungary qualified from Group G after an own goal from Bulgaria midfielder Alex Petkov deep into stoppage time saw them salvage a 2-2 draw in Sofia.

Martin Adam headed Hungary into a 10th-minute lead from a free-kιck by Liverpool midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai, but Spas Delev soon had the hosts level.

Bulgaria were reduced to 10 me𝚗 in the 36th minute when Valentin Antov collected a second caution, while Hungary saw winger Milos Kerkez dismissed just before the hour for two bookings.

Kiril Despodov then put Bulgaria, bottom of the table, in front from the penalty spot with 12 minutes left.

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Just as it seemed Hungary would not get the point they needed to qualify with seven minutes of stoppage time played, Petkov headed Szoboszlai’s corner into his own net.

Later on Thursday, Montenegro beаt Lithuania 2-0 in Podgorica to keep alive their qualification hopes.

In Group F, Sweden suffered a first defeat to Azerbaijan as they lost 3-0 in Baku.

Early goals from Emin Mahmudov and Renat Dadashov saw Azerbaijan 2-0 up after just six minutes against the already-eliminated Swedes, who were playing for the first time since their game against Belgium was abandoned a month ago after two people were shot deаd in Brussels.

In the 56th minute, Azerbaijan defender Behlul Mustafazade was shown a red card early for hauling down Viktor Gyokeres as he ran clear, before Mahmudov scored a late third from long range.

Austria ended their qualifying campaign with a 2-0 victory away in Estonia to move two points clear at the top of the group above Belgium, who still have one fixture left

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